Governor Andrew Cuomo has signed a bill legalising the recreational use of marijuana in New York after the state legislature authorised the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act late Tuesday.
“This is a historic day in New York — one that rights the wrongs of the past by putting an end to harsh prison sentences, embraces an industry that will grow the Empire State’s economy, and prioritizes marginalized communities so those that have suffered the most will be the first to reap the benefits,” Gov. Cuomo said in a statement.
“This was one of my top priorities in this year’s State of the State agenda and I’m proud these comprehensive reforms address and balance the social equity, safety, and economic impacts of legal adult-use cannabis.”
What does this mean for past convictions?
Recreational marijuana being legalised means anyone with a previous conviction (that would now be legal, thanks to the new law) will either be resentenced or have their record expunged. Expungement is the sealing of a criminal conviction, making it unavailable to the public.
The new law
Firstly, adult New Yorkers over the age of 21 can now legally possess up to 5 pounds of cannabis at home and up to 3 ounces of cannabis outside the home and can use it freely. Secondly, it allows them to possess up to 24 grams of cannabis concentrate.
In addition, six mature plants and six immature plants are allowed to be grown per household, 18 months after sales begin. People can smoke marijuana anywhere in public where smoking tobacco is allowed. However, inside workplaces, schools, or cars it is strictly prohibited.
The new law means that cannabis is no longer on the list of controlled substances. This means producers and distributors will soon be able to get licenses. According to NY Post, licensed dispensaries could be selling Marijuana as soon as 2022.
The bill also expands the state’s current medical marijuana and cannabinoid hemp initiatives.
According to officials, the bill opens up a new industry (the adult-use cannabis industry) in the state. This industry has the potential to bring in $350 million (about £253 million) in annual taxes and create up to 60,000 jobs.
There is a special cannabis revenue fund that will allocate taxes as follows:
- 40% to education
- 40% to the Community Grants Reinvestment Fund
- 20% to the Drug Treatment and Public Education Fund.
The news has overjoyed citizens. Even New York City Mayor, Bill de Blasio hailed the law during his City Hall press briefing. “Last night the state Legislature made history and acted to right a wrong and legalise marijuana the right way,” de Blasio said.
“This is a hugely important moment for the state of New York.”
The bill’s sponsor in the Senate, State Sen. Liz Krueger gave a statement on Tuesday. She spoke about the destruction of young peoples lives due to the racial inequities of drug enforcement.
Kruegar is positive about the future and the effect legalisation will have. “New York will be poised to implement a nation-leading model for what marijuana legalisation can look like,” Krueger said.